Nvidia Unveils First High-End Chips Based On ‘Turing’ Architecture

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Turing’s real-time rendering advances could appear in Nvidia’s gaming chips, set to be announced as early as next week

Nvidia has unveiled details of the first graphics processing units (GPUs) to use its new Turing processor architecture, a move that suggests news about its next consumer-oriented GeForce chips could be forthcoming next week.

The company announced the Turing news at Siggraph, a conference focused on computer graphics professionals, earlier this week.

It provided details on the Quadro RTX, which it said is the industry’s first chip able to carry out ray tracing in real time.

Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang at Siggraph. Credit: Nvidia

Real-time rendering

Ray tracing is the processor-intensive task of simulating the path of light rays in a computer-generated image, and until now has required an interval of time to carry out.

“Turing is Nvidia’s most important innovation in computer graphics in more than a decade,” said Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang.

The new Turing architecture enables real time ray-tracing with dedicated “RT cores”.

The Quadro chips are intended for high-end professionals, with the flagship Quadro RTX 8000 to cost $10,000 (£7,800) when it ships toward the end of this year.

The GPU includes 48GB of GDDR6 memory, 4,608 CUDA cores and 576 Tensor cores.

CUDA is Nvidia’s platform for general-purpose processing, while Tensor cores are specialised for artificial intelligence. The company said the new Quadro chips represent its biggest technological advancement since it introduced CUDA in 2006.

Nvidia said the top-end Quadro churns through 10 gigarays a second, with general performance at 16 teraflops.

Nvidia’s Turing architecture can power real-time ray tracing in complext images. Credit: Nvidia

Gaming advance

The new Quadro line is rounded out by the Quadro RTX 5000 and 6000 GPUs.

The GPUs use Nvidia’s NVLink interface for connecting multiple cards, and they also support the VirtualLink standard for powering VR headsets over a USB-C cable.

Dell, Lenovo and HP are set to produce workstations with the new Quadro chips, Nvidia said.

The announcement could give an idea of the news to come at next week’s Gamescom gaming converence, where Nvidia is expected to announce GeForce news.

The Siggraph news suggest the ray-tracing hardware in Turing-based GeForce chips could next be applied to boosting real-time rendering in mainstream games.

Nvidia made its name with graphics chips for high-end gaming, but has since expanded into areas ranging from driverless cars to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Its data centre chip sales more than doubled to $1.9bn in its most recent fiscal year, while the gaming chip business, its largest, grew 35 percent to $5.5bn, in part due to the adoption of its chips for the lucrative business of carrying out cryptocurrency calculations.

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